Tag Archives: Volunteer

How I Gained Three New Brothers…and a Son in Nepal

World.

Let me introduce to you my three new brothers: Yubraj, Dhiraj, and Bipin.

How did that happen? I’m not exactly sure.

My Australian friends have left Nepal, including Hamish who left a couple weeks back. Now that I was on my own, I made more of an effort to get to know the village and the surrounding villages on the mountain that I lived on. Since class ten, whom I lived with, were contantly studying, I found myself bored at times. So I frequently visited the neighbors homes, specifically Aatma’s older brother Yam Thapa, who lived closer to the private school I taught at. Yam has two sons: Yubraj (UK) and Dhiraj (DJ), who honestly, make for better conversation than Amish and Aakash who are a lot younger.

nepal pokhara padeli sarangkot volunteer village tefl

Yubraj, 18, but more commonly referred to as UK.

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Dhiraj, 16, but I call him DJ because I couldn’t remember how to pronounce his actual name for a solid month!

Overtime, I became pretty tight with them. Even staying the night at their home on several occasions by request from them and their gracious mother. Yam liked having me over because I was a valuable asset as far as having a proficient English speaker around to help UK and DJ hone their English-speaking skills.

Over time, I’m not sure how, but the two boys started referring to me as “dai” which means “big brother” and they told me to refer to them as “vai” which means “little brother”. Even their parents and the village began to recognize our newfound brotherhood.

nepal pokhara padeli sarangkot volunteer village tefl

nepal pokhara padeli sarangkot volunteer village tefl

Back home, in America, it’s not uncommon for friends to sometimes refer to each other as a “bro” or “sister from another mister”, kinda thing. But here in Nepal, I found that when you call someone who is not biologically related a brother or sister, it holds more credence.

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In Nepal, whenever I ask students how many brothers or sisters they have, their answer would always include their close friends or non-immediate relatives that they personally consider a brother or sister, in addition to their actual biological siblings. And it’s not just a thing the kids do, the adults do this as well. Some of the teachers consider some of the students as siblings too. At first this confused the heck out of me when I began to think that the whole village was somehow legitimately related to each other, but turns out that is not the case. Still, if you are considered a brother or sister to someone in the village, its taken seriously–for life. I was now UK and DJ’s brother, which I will take solemnly.

I messaged my mother and informed her she had two new sons. She didn’t question it, instead she wished to send them a gift (which is difficult because as far as I know, I don’t think mail or postal service is a thing here in this village).

Over time, I gained yet another brother by the name of Bipin. He was a former student of mine, two years ago but since then he has switched to a more prestigious school in Pokhara in order to challenge his studies. He was an academically bright student and Bal Prativa was a cake walk for him. But of course, the more prestigious school costs a heck of a lot more money, and the people in these villages aren’t exactly making it rain with cash. Bipin needed help.

Me spraying Bipin with snow spray, more than two years ago in December 2014.

Back in November (2016), while I was backpacking in Australia, Bipin sent me a message on FB messenger telling me his predicament and that if I could send him $50 to help him with his tuition. I’m always weary of people I don’t know that well asking me for money (I didn’t know Bipin too well at the time), especially over the internet, and more so from a developing country. As much as I wanted to help him, I wasn’t sure how to send the money to him. They don’t have PayPal and I doubted a Western Union-type service. I never met his parents either so I wasn’t sure if I could trust them. I told him I would have to think about it and eventually he stopped asking. So that was that.

Fast forward to now, four months later, I went to visit Bipin and his family about thirty minutes walk from Padeli. I reunited with him and met his mother who playfully only knew how to say “I am Nepali. No English”, whenever she spoke to me.


“Where’s your father?” I asked Bipin.

“He’s working in Malaysia.”

Bipin hasn’t seen his father for two and a half years, which means its only him and his mother working alone on their farm. The moment I arrived, Bipin’s mother made me lunch and continued working nonstop–sweeping, washing clothes, tending to the goats and buffalo, picking vegetables, and even found time to make me tea much to her insistence.


Both invited me to stay the night, which I agreed. Their home was a lot more primitive than Aatma’s and Yam’s. Bipin and his mother shared one giant room which served as their bedroom, their living area, and their storage. I didn’t mind it. Bipin was humble about it all and went out of his way to make sure I was comfortable and constantly apologized for the lack of Western luxury available. I told him not to worry. I was just fine. Still, Bipin didn’t mention anything about the money he asked of me four months ago. So I brought it up before we went to bed.

“Hey Bipin?” I asked.

“Yes, Dan?” (They always same my name in every other sentence.)

“Were you ever able to pay for your tuition? Remember when you asked me in November?”

“The principal agreed to let me pay the months tuition later in a couple months,” he began to say. “It gives us more time to come up with the money.”

I felt guilty that I couldn’t help him at the time. But now that I was here in person, I could lend a hand. I took out my wallet and handed him Rs 7000, translating to roughly $65, which was enough to pay for about five months worth of tuition fees.

“Here,” I said as I handed him the money. “Use this towards your education.”

He was speechless and appeared genuinely appreciative but didn’t quite know what to say.

“Make sure you tell your mom later,” I told him.

“I will Dan.”

The next morning, Bipin and his mother insisted that I stay with them for another night. I couldn’t help but to oblige.


He and I became brothers before I eventually left his home. He then asked if it was okay to add my actual brothers back home in Michigan, Steve and Matt, as friends on Facebook. I said sure but I had to inform them prior, so they didn’t think it was some random stranger requesting their friendship. They both gladly accepted him.

Now let me explain the whole “son” thing…

I’ve grown pretty tight with the class ten boys who lived with me at Aatma’s place. I made an effort to usually spend time with them before bed time and speak with them, casually in English. Of the five boys, Samir’s English was not up to par with the rest. In fact, his was a bit behind for his class level. I concentrated on speaking to him a bit more.

Samir, 16, the most innocent, yet most oblivious to the world compared to the rest of the class ten boys.

Samir is the most naive and juvenile of the boys. He also is around me more than his other classmates and usually wants to play with my phone, hence why I’ll find selfies on it later on, like these:

nepal pokhara padeli sarangkot volunteer village tefl

nepal pokhara padeli sarangkot volunteer village tefl

I barely remember Samir from my previous visit in Nepal two years ago, because he never said a word to me (also because I usually avoided their class). This time, I can’t keep him away from me πŸ˜‚. Nowadays, I have grown fond of Samir because he’s actually a really good kid. As in he is very protective of his friends, he’s family oriented, and he just means well overall. It’s just that his English kinda sucks. I’d teach him new words and constantly correct his sentences and if he didn’t know a word, then I pushed him to try his best to explain what he meant. I also made him practice English before I gave him my phone to play with. The other boys began to notice how “fatherly” my actions were towards him and jokingly began to tell Samir to “listen to your father”. It wasn’t long before Samir began to call me “father” all the time and I eventually would jokingly call him “chhora” which means son in Nepalese (I think). It stuck with us for the rest of my time there.

 

Once he even asked me, “How do you kiss a girl with your tongue?”

I almost died from laughter!

I told him, “You’ll just naturally learn on your own soon enough.

Samir’s father is also working internationally, and won’t see each other for a very long time.

Overtime, others in the village began calling me ‘brother’ besides UK, DJ, and Bipin. I’m sure it may just be a thing to call one another that here or if these people are considering me family. Whichever the case, I am completely happy with both possibilities.

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The One

The whole volleyball tournament I put together for the students was a lie. I already knew which team was going to get the prize before I even established the teams. I knew from the very beginning that every team that participated was going to “win”. The tourney was just a giant ruse I used as an excuse to pump some much needed athletic competition into this school. I didn’t tell them that though. I wanted them to play to win. And after it was all said and done, I’d say it was a big success. The rivalries ran rampant between the older classes during the days where we didn’t play.

I also knew from the very beginning that I wanted to do something special for these kids. Volunteer teachers come and go here, but I wanted to make sure that I stood out. I wanted to be that one teacher, the students would never forget. Previous volunteer teachers have given to the school itself: a new computer, painted walls, even a new classroom. I donated money to the school to help setup a Wi-Fi connection, but that’s something I fear the students won’t even get any use out of at all. It’s mainly for the teachers–and what they will do with that is beyond me. So instead of donating something else to the school, I wanted to do something directly for the students. These students who go to school six days out of the week and spend a good chunk of their time at home doing homework and village chores. I wanted them to be a kid for a moment. And I thought throwing them a giant party they would never forget would do the trick.

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I told Zahra all about the idea to throw a giant picnic/feast/party for the kids and she thought it was a great idea and thankfully I had her to help me set this up. We went down to the city center of Pokhara and to the supermarket. I wasn’t sure what I was looking for exactly but I had an idea. I knew I was going to purchase a lot so I emptied both my big and small backpacks and brought it with me to fill up. There were exactly 50 students who “won” the prize and that’s a whole lot of mouths to feed. The party isn’t for a few days still so I couldn’t buy anything cold because refrigerators don’t exist in the village. It would all have to be dry food. This was going to be harder than I imagined.

After a couple hours in the supermarket, I wound up with six 2.5 liters of party size pepsi bottles, 10 loaves of white bread, 4 jars of peanut butter, 4 jars of jam, 60 paper cups, 3 giant bags of chips, 2 tins full of cookies, a giant sack full of assorted sweets, and three cans of chicken sausages. It was a lot of stuff, but I still needed more! I went upstairs to the toy department looking for something I can explode in the air. Low and behold, there were bottles of silly string, canisters of snow spray and tubes of confetti and rose petals that burst in the air when you twisted them. I bought it all! The kids would love it!

The hardest part was lugging everything back up to the village. My bags were filled and super heavy. We also had to be careful not to squish the bread and not to crush the chips. We spent the evening before the party making 50 peanut butter and jam sandwiches. We took that and the rest of the supplies up to the school the next morning.

Zahra and I hard at work!
Zahra and I hard at work!

I asked grades 7, 8, and 9 to come down the terrace fields near the school as soon as seventh period starts. I found the perfect spot for the picnic party, along the bottom of a series of terraces, overlooking this portion of the mountain and Fewa Lake down below. The scenery was great, the weather was warm, and the sky was cloudless. I don’t think I could have found a better spot nearby. During sixth period, Zarah and I took all of our supplies down to the terrace and started to setup. We found a large rock that had a flat top that we used as our table to pour all the drinks.

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Soon, we saw the students starting to make their way down to us, carrying the large speaker box the school uses every morning for their national anthem. I asked the students to bring it down to play music.

The students making their way down the terraces.
The students making their way down the terraces.

We handed each student a cup of pepsi and a sandwich. We had plenty of pop to spare for seconds and even thirds. I handed out a bag of chips to each grade and tossed the cookies to the crowd, along with the chicken sausages. After eating, I gathered all the students in a large group around, played the music which was upbeat club music the kids here listened to, and twisted some of the party tubes I bought until confetti exploded in the air and danced all around them. They really loved that!

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As the music played, I handed Zahra one of my many bottles of silly string and told her “Do with this as you want!” Or in other words, spray the living $h!% out of the kids! As some were still eating or drinking or dancing, Zahra and I ran around the students and sprayed them all over the place in which they screamed like giddy little kids. The good kind of screams. Many of them wanted to try and spray for themselves but I knew they would try and spray me if I did that.

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I also had bottles that sprayed “snow” in the air. I lifted up two bottles, pointed them into the sky, and let em rip!

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Out came streams and clumps of white stuff which looked like soap suds. The kids really loved this part. They’ve never seen anything like it before!

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After several minutes when the suds began to disappear, I stood on a platform with a sack full of candy and gathered all the students around.

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I reached into the sack and pulled out a handful of sweets, chocolates, gums, and fruit flavored candies much to the kids amazement. I threw it up into the air over the crowd of school uniforms. They rose their hands in the air as if they were going to catch some! None of them did.

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The candy fell all around them and as it happened, the kids buckled down to the ground, pushing, shoving towards the sugary treats. As they did that, I threw more and more candies into the air, in different spots. The kids were scattered all over the place, scrambling and lunging over the grass. I’m not sure who got how many of what, but I do know that everyone got something. I had bought a whole lot of candy to ensure everyone got something.

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After the candy fest, I filled up the kids with more pop and started smearing extra peanut butter on their faces. That quickly backfired when they would smear it back onto my face! I smelled like peanut butter for the rest of the day, but all in good fun. We turned up the music louder and now that everyone was sugared up and in party mode, more dancing began within the girls while the boys played makeshift soccer with the empty cookie tins.

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Everything was gone. All the drinks, the food, the sprays, the sweets, the explosives, all gone which was meant there was nothing to carry back up! I managed to gather all the students out for a giant group photo. These guys are great!

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Time flew by and before we knew it, we heard the cowbell ring. School has been dismissed but these kids wanted to continue dancing among the terrace. As they did, rows of tiny school children looked on from way above. I felt a little bad that the rest of the students couldn’t experience this, but this wasn’t cheap! I could only manage to handle the older classes that I knew the best. Mina looked on and waved us to comeback. I think she needed the speaker back to lock up in the office. We all climbed back up the terraces. Zarah and I had large bags of trash in our hands going up the whole way while a group of students lugged up the heavy speaker.

The students told me how much fun they had and thanked me for such a great time. They haven’t been able to do something like that before.

“You all deserved it,” I told them.

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Mission accomplished.

Speak 2 Me

Another early morning at the Thapa household means another early morning being woken up by our human alarm clock, Aakash. I’ve almost come to welcome it. It’s not just Aakash but also his older sister Amisha who spits a million Nepali words a second, shouting to someone as if they were in another room 30 yards away. It’s all part of a typical morning at my home stay. I wake up, the kids bring me tea or coffee, I lounge for a bit, brush my teeth, rinse my face, get dressed, and eat dal bhat breakfast. I have yet to take a shower here in the mountain and I probably never will. The water is Antarctica cold and the shower isn’t really a shower. It’s a hole that just happens to have water come out of it. I’m a stinky smelly boy up here but surprisingly still I never smell half as bad as the students at the school.

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“Dan…,” called Principal Aatma from the door of the computer lab. “The accounting teacher is absent. Can you teach accounting to grade 9?”

“Yeah,” I answered. I’m pretty sure I can just teach whatever is in their text books. I was just happy to have a class to myself.

When I went into the grade 9 room, the students asked if I were their teacher. I said ‘yes’ and received claps and cheers. I asked them to take out their accounting book. They told me they didn’t have an accounting book and that the teacher usually just teaches off the top of his head. I’m pretty sure the accounting here is way different from the accounting I learned back home, so I thought I’d scrap that and try a totally different subject: Public Speaking.

“Okay guys,” I said to them. “I’ve noticed over the past couple of weeks that when you read out loud in English, that it is very fast and to me it sounds like a completely different language.”

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The students were as silent as the night, each with their eyes fixed on me as I spoke in front of the them.Β “When you move onto high school, you’re gonna have to give speeches and presentations in front of large groups and even when you’re a little older, you’re going to have to be able to speak properly and with confidence if you really want to stand out from everyone. It makes all the difference.”

The students showed me faces of agreement and when I called out the students that I mentioned spoke really fast, they laughed in shyness.

I doubt the students will learn about this in their high school courses. This was pulling off the top of my head, but I had the students jot quick notes and had a few practicing by talking a bit about themselves in front of the class, but using the tips I just taught them. Of course, I had to lead by example by telling them about myself. I’m not the don of public speeches. As a matter of fact, I hate speaking in front of groups of people. But when the times call for it, I know what to do. It’s different being in front of a classroom to myself. All my anxiety of speaking in front of others disappears. If these students don’t believe my presence when I speak in front of them, then they won’t take my lesson to heart. The period flew by and I had their attention the entire time. I asked them to keep their notes because for when their teacher is absent again, we’ll pick up where we left off.

I’d have to say the grade 9 class is my favorite so far. They are comprised of mostly girls, but man are they funny! The five boys in the class are quiet but always have their heads in the books compared to the boys in the other grades. Grade 8 would be one of my favorites too, but there’s one student in the class who ruins it for everyone. His name is Milan and he’s a troublemaker. He likes to talk back to the volunteers, but in Nepali so we can’t understand what he’s saying. He’s constantly chattering and arguing with the other students as well. He’s a good kid when he wants to be but most of the time he’s a pain. Then there’s the class of grade 7, another favorite of mine. All boys and only two girls.

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The two girls have bonded together well since they are the only females representing grade 7, surrounded by a bunch of rowdy boys. The boys in this class have a tighter connection with each other than the rest of the grades and it shows especially when it comes to volleyball.

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Over the past week or so, I’ve managed to rally the older classes together to hold a volleyball tournament over the next few weeks. Only grades 7 through 9 would participate, with the boys facing the boys and the girls facing the girls. Aatma welcomed the idea of a little competitive spirit and let me run the entire tournament. It’s nothing serious. It’s just something for the students to look forward to and will help give a much needed dose of school pride amongst Bal Prativa. Each Friday, school ends at 1:30pm so afterwards I invited the whole school out to the field for friendly matches. This would let me work out even teams, who can and wants to play, and to propose team captains to a boy and girl in each grade. I also invited a team of students from a rival school to participate with my students. The other younger grades showed up to support their respective schools when they played against the rival school. I played referee since the Nepali volleyball rules were jacked, I implemented organized, yet fair rules. Rallys and rotations. The day turned out to be a massive success!

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Next week we would begin the official teams and begin the tournament with the older classes!

 

 

Spindrifters

Whenever I think back on all the times I surfed back in Muizenburg, I would always think about all of the great white sharks that lurked in those waters of False Bay. Thankfully, I never seen any while I was surfing, but I would always hear stories about people getting their legs ripped out or unlucky victims being chomped in half while casually swimming in those shores. Whether these stories were fact or completely ridiculous would still make me wonder…what IF? What IF those shark spotters that sit on top of Muizenburg mountain weren’t paying attention, which is completely possible given of how bored they must get up there. But IF there was a hungry shark lurking around, I had a method of making sure I wasn’t the one on the sharks radar for lunch. That method? Just stay in the middle of the crowd. Which means, don’t go out past the furthest surfer and don’t go off where a shark could get me without it getting to another surfer first! Sounds bad but it’s the survival of the fittest! If you ever are trying to look for me while I am surfing, look right in the middle of where everyone is…that’s where I’ll most likely be! πŸ™‚ It’s still unknown if this method actually works and hopefully I won’t ever have to find out. But the reason I’m bringing this up is because I decided to return to Muizenburg and surf some more, but this time bring all the volunteers at Mama Zulu’s: Hanneke, Mieke, Eric, Clara, Gesa, and Chris. None of them have ever surfed before except for Eric who has surfed once or twice and Chris who surfed once when he was eleven. I was happy to teach them a lesson!

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We all took a train in the morning of one of the first warmer days since I’ve gotten here to Cape Town and from there we had to wait an hour for the next train and finally took one to Muizenberg. We walked immediately to Dave’s Surf Shack where low and behold, Dave was there! I only met Dave a couple of times back in the day, so I didn’t think he would remember me. And I was correct in that assumption. He asked if we have ever surfed before and that’s when I started to jog his memory a bit. I told him I surfed here a lot last year and was part of IVHQ. I also mentioned names of past volunteers he knew for sure that were always around like Lucy, Tessa, Ansel, Spencer, and Larry. Once we got to talking, then he remembered who I was…I think? πŸ™‚ Anways, he let me know the surf shack is no longer partnered with IVHQ and have both since went their separate ways. IVHQ now has their own surf spot. He was able to give us a discount and asked if the others knew how to surf. No one besides me answered with complete confidence. I told Dave I could give them all a brief lesson, just like Ansel and Linds gave me last year, but he still strongly recommended that the ones who have never touched a surf board in their lives try a proper introductory course. The girls agreed to get a lesson but I told Dave I would teach Chris and Eric. So then we suited up!

As I was changing, I immediately noticed the surf shack has gotten a ton of new wetsuits and loads of new surf boards. Seems like this place is heading into the right direction! We picked our boards and went out to the beach. The girls went with a private instructor while I took the guys to another area and gave them a brief lesson of what I remembered (and it’s not much to be quite honest!) But it was enough for them to brave their first wave in the shark infested waters of False Bay. Once we went into the ocean, I was a bit taken back at how cold the water was. After being in Southeast Asia beaches for three months, I was super used to nice, warm, (sometimes too warm), waters. But it only took a few seconds to get used to it, and the three of us went further along to find the perfect wave. We were all unsuccessful in riding the first couple of waves. It’s been a year since I’ve attempted to surf and it showed. I was rusty! But soon I got the hang of it and was able to stand and ride out a few waves. All I had to do was rediscover my balance on the board. Eric caught some waves and so did Chris, who learned fairly quick. That’s what great teaching does! πŸ˜‰ I also never thought to see some of the surf kids there from last year either but there they were. One of them, I forget their names, was in the middle of a wave when he spotted me and jumped off his board to come say hi to me. He never expected to see me again! I told him I would be in SA for awhile and I would see them all at the school soon. Afterwards, once I was satisfied with the waves, I went back in the shack to grab my camera. I didn’t bring my GoPro (like an idiot) but still managed to capture some great shots while being EXTREMELY careful with it walking in the water.

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After what felt like forever, it was finally my time to shine and Chris came out of the water to capture me on camera as well.

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Once we were all finished. We joined the girls on the beach who have just finished their lessons of the surf. I’m not sure how successful they were but they had enough fun where they would all like to comeback and try again! On the beach, we played another exciting round of Ninja and goofed around on the boards.

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When we went back to the shack, Dave invited us over to his new coffee place where volunteers can hang out in their free time nearby. We crossed the tracks and walked a few yards when some more kids from the Christian Primary spotted me. One of them was Ashwin who remembered me right off the bat. By the look on his face, he wasn’t expecting to see me walking around again either! We went along and they followed us to a little coffee house dubbed “The Club House” which Dave and his wife runs. He describes it as a place where volunteers from any organization can wind down, relax, and enjoy a hot cup of chocolate and mingle. Part of the Club House was another building Dave bought and renovated. It’s a place where kids who are constantly on the streets can spend their time at. We walked inside and there were sections for computers, arts and crafts, reading, and even a small makeshift gym. It was one of the coolest hangout spots I have ever seen and Dave is still in the process of fixing everything up and making sure everything is put together properly before he starts accepting volunteers to help run the place and teach kids to surf. I thought this was a very neat idea and something than can definitely evolve into much bigger things in due time. Next time I’m around, I’ll take pictures to show everyone who is interested. In the meantime, I assured Dave he’d see us again as I plan on visiting Muizenburg pretty often.

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We lost track of time and forgot that Sunday means trains operate on an earlier schedule. We managed to catch the last train to Cape Town but had no choice but to take a taxi back to Kayamandi. There was no train available to Stellenbosch. But since there was seven of us, splitting the cost back home wasn’t such a huge deal. It came to R100 per person which equals about $10.
We ended up getting home later than what we wanted because we had to prepare the Kayamandi kids for their big trip that starts the next day! We had our eight kids: Atha, RiRi, Chester, Mawande, Lupho, Ski, Aphiwe, and Avele on board and they were all pretty primed and pumped for this upcoming adventure! For those of you who donated and are interested, pay attention to the next few posts as I detail our experience day by day. I will also get into describing who these eight individuals are, for you guys to get to know better.

Reaching Out 2 The World finally begins!

A Day in the Life of Lupho

One of Chris’ friends from home asked if he could interview a student at Ikaya and find out what a typical day for a child is like here in Kayamandi. His friend is a teacher and she wants to compare a school day for a Kayamandi student to an American student for her class. Chris had the idea to make a video out of it, and record a specific student and school and ask him questions. The student he chose to document was Lupho. Lupho attends Ikaya Primary and frequently comes over to Zulu’s to hang out with us play with our iPads. He is also one of the eight kids that is coming with us on the Reaching Out 2 The World trip which is coming up fast! I didn’t know of Lupho last year but he appeared out of the blue to me nowhere this time. With Fudo not here anymore, he left a spot open for another student to join us on the trip. We decided Lupho would fit the bill. We told Lupho the day before that we wanted to come to his home in the morning and walk with him to school, and also interview him for later. He was more than willing to participate!

On Thursday morning, Lupho came to us and we followed him to his home. His home is pretty basic. A shack with one room and two beds adjacent to each other. It’s about the size of a typical American bedroom, maybe a little bigger. When we arrived at his home, his mother was laying on the bed watching tv. Actually, the tv was mostly static but you could make out what was going on if you concentrated. His mother didn’t seem too concerned that we came because Lupho has been telling her all about us. We wanted to let her know exactly what the trip entails and if we could have her permission to take Lupho with us. In order for the kids to go with us on this trip, they had to all get a permission slip signed by their parents or legal guardian. She signed Lupho’s which meant he was now officially part of the Reaching Out 2 The World club! We thanked his mother for letting us come by and then we continued on our way to Ikaya. Along the way, I recorded footage of Lupho walking with Chris to the school. Once we made it to the school during one of their breaks, there were tons of kids running about, as usual. Our plan was to interview Lupho in one of the classrooms and possibly interview another group of school kids about typical life in Kayamandi, but we had to put that on a brief hold because as soon as we entered the school grounds, the kids wanted to play. I came prepared this time and brought a brand new rugby ball I had just bought and passed it around to the kids. It didn’t take long before a quarter of the schools students were running all around with my ball; kicking it everywhere, nearly hitting classroom windows and such. I had lost complete control! Meanwhile, other kids would latch onto me wanting me to pull them around the school. They did the same to Chris.

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I’ve never seen the kids here at this school act so crazy! And it also seemed like break lasted forever! Come to find out, it was a long break because there was really nothing for the students to do. It was the second to last day before the students went on a week-long break so the teachers didn’t want to fill their plates with anymore work. Once we realized that this break lasted forever, Chris and I summoned Lupho and found a classroom where we could interview him without all the chaos. I recorded him on video as we asked him questions like, “What did you have for breakfast this morning?”, “What do you usually do after school?”, “Who helps you with your homework?”, etc. I found out that Lupho likes to play football (soccer) after school everyday with his friends, loves Chris Brown and Nikki Minaj, and wishes to go to Germany. Next, we wanted to interview a few random students of the school. We went to the class next door and found a group of learners playing around. Even during break, you can find a few learners playing around even in the classrooms. We asked a group if we could ask them some questions and record it on video. They were a bit shy at first but happily agreed. We asked typical questions, like we asked Lupho, including “If you could visit one country in the world right now, where would it be?” Most of the kids answered “Switzerland!”. Why the heck these kids picked Switzerland out of all the places in the world was completely out of left field. I expected them to say America or France or something like that. Afterwards, Chris asked the kids if they could sing South Africa’s national anthem. Surprisingly, I don’t think I’ve ever heard it before and I didn’t know how long it was!

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Chris compiled a video of Lupho and the interviews on his computer and we will be sure to post it once we get some time and decent internet connection around here. Time and internet are essentials thats pretty pesky to come by during this trip, so I apologize for being so slow to update these blogs, but I’m working on em!

By the way, we have the eighth and final member of the Reaching Out 2 The World Crew. That would be none other than Avela! If you remember before on a post from last year, I mentioned how Avele was moving to the Eastern Cape and it was unlikely that I would ever see him again. Fortunately, Avele and Mawande are cousins and they stay in contact. We found out the Avele would be in Kayamandi during the school break. We asked Avele to get permission from his parents and he’s all clear to go!

The Reaching Out 2 World trip is coming up quick!